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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release August 2002


Dear Members

Last night I had a phone call from our lawyers. Save Our Suburbs has won its Supreme Court case against the Electoral Commissioner of NSW. They faxed the judgement to me which has been handed down much earlier than we could have hoped for. We much appreciate this expedition. I have not yet had the opportunity of discussing the judgement with our lawyers but I thought I should let you know immediately. Here follow some points that seem to me to be particularly significant.

In the 25 page judgement the Honourable Acting Justice AJ Burchett states: "The plaintiff says the right to participate fully in the political process, and in elections in particular, is a fundamental implication of a democratic polity, so that a full opportunity to participate in elections is 'a fundamental freedom' of the citizens of this State. I agree with this submission, which accords with an understanding of the nature of a democracy for well over 2000 years. ...

" However in order to fully participate in an election the law requires SOS to have been registered for 12 months prior to that election. On this question the judgement says "The plaintiff suggests that such a registration can be backdated. ...... . In the absence of any provision enlarging the act of registration. ...... . I do not think I can make an order that the Commissioner perform such an act. ...

"The question then is whether an amendment of the particulars of registration could be made to show as the true date of registration of the party the date when it was entitled to be registered, and should have been registered but for official error. ...

"In my view, the power of amendment should be construed as sufficiently wide to enable the retrospective insertion of particulars including the date when registration should be effected. ...

The judgement refers to "the obvious intention of Parliament that a party which took the appropriate steps to register in time". This intention would be frustrated if the party were to "lose those benefits because of a delibrate or gravely mistaken official act."

The judgement concludes "the court orders the defendant to effect the registration of the plaintiff".

We need to discuss the full implications of this judgement with our lawyers but in the meanwhile I felt I should convey the news to you.

Tony Recsei
President, Save Our Suburbs (SOS) NSW Inc

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